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December 17, 2019 5:14 pm

Jersey City Board of Education Trustee Condemned for Blaming Kosher Market Shooting on Jews

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A picture of the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle around a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dec. 11, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Lloyd Mitchell.

A top US Jewish civil rights group condemned on Tuesday a local education official who blamed last week’s deadly mass shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City on those who were specifically targeted in it — the city’s Jewish residents.

Jersey City Board of Education Trustee Joan Terrell’s comments were made on Facebook in response to an article published by the Insider NJ news site about a gathering of civic and religious readers following the attack, which has been confirmed to have been an antisemitic hate crime.

Playing off the title of the article “Faith and Hope to Fight Hate,” Terrell wrote, “Where was all this faith and hope when Black homeowners were threatened, intimidated, and harassed by I WANT TO BUY YOUR HOUSE brutes of the jewish community? They brazenly came on the property of Ward F. Black homeowners and waved bags of money.”

“Who helped Black people living in rental properties owned by the jewish people but were given 30 day eviction notices so that more jewish people could move in?” she asked.

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After claiming that Jews were involved in a conspiracy to bring “drug dealers and prostitutes” into the neighborhood, Terrell said, “We learned 6 rabbis were accused of selling body parts.”

Referring to the African American assailants in the shooting, she noted, “Mr. Anderson and Ms. Graham went directly to the kosher supermarket. I believe they knew they would come out in body bags. What is the message they were sending? Are we brave enough to explore the answer to their message? Are we brave enough to stop the assault on the Black communities of America?”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New York/New Jersey Regional Director Evan Bernstein stated on Tuesday, “We are appalled by the reported comment of a Jersey City Board of Education Trustee on Facebook blaming Jews for last week’s horrific shooting attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City.”

“These statements are deeply antisemitic and highly offensive to the victims,” he added. “They also do not reflect the beliefs and values of the larger Jersey City community, which has come together in this time of darkness to support one another and to stand firmly against hatred and bigotry of any kind.”

Ironically, Terrell’s comments were posted on the Facebook page of Lincoln High School Principal Chris Gadsen, who saw things quite differently from her.

Gadsen stated, “TO MY BLACK COMMUNITY IN JERSEY CITY: Don’t get caught up in another narrative. We are not hateful people. Stop with the Jewish this, and Jewish that conversations and rhetoric.”

According to Insider NJ, Terrell’s comments were widely rebuked. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said that her views were not representative, stating, “The African American community has been nothing short of amazing over the last week.”

“Countless people have reached out to support their neighbors and express the sentiment that we are all working towards a better city together,” he noted. “It has been inspirational to see the community pull together and that is the Jersey City we all know. I’m saddened by her comments overall and the ignorance they demonstrate.”

Insider NJ also quoted local residents outraged by her comments, with Valeriy Verkhovskiy saying, “I’m a parent, those remarks are unacceptable should not have been mentioned.”

Another resident, Josh Sotomayor Einstein, said Terrell’s comments were “anti-Jewish, and Joan Terrell needs to understand that there are extremists in every community, they can be black or white.”

“But she appears to be saying it was all right for these bad individuals to do what they did,” he continued. “She is trying to sweep naked bigotry under the rug and pretend to raise questions about gentrification. You can’t have socially acceptable bigotry. These were horrible people who did the killing and conducted a violent attack on a minority group.”

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